Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

Easter Week

At a Glance

The Passion Play dominates the events during Semana Santa in Ajijic.

More Info

Ajijic’s Easter Week celebrations center around the community-produced Passion Play, which this year is in its 40th edition.

Here is the 2019 schedule for Easter Week in Ajijic:

Easter Week 2019 in Ajijic, Mexico

Y la versión en español:

Easter Week 2019 in Ajijic, Mexico

Palm Sunday — April 14

Palm Sunday starts with a special verbena de jamaica del pasado, a kind of old-time community potluck in the plaza with pozole, sopes, tamales and other traditional Mexican foods. All are made at homes in the town and sold in the plaza from 4 p.m. onwards and all the proceeds go to the production of the Passion Play.

Pretend civil weddings will also take place at the registro civil booth and kids will be competing for wooden toys from Tlaquepaque during games of the traditional Mexican lotería — basically bingo, but using images on cards instead of numbers.

The Palm Sunday procession, which portrays Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem a few days before the Last Supper, starts at 6:30 p.m. at Seis Esquinas (Six Corners) and proceeds east along Hidalgo Street for half a mile until it reaches St. Andrew’s Church near the plaza.

It’s a special procession because the entire route is covered with fresh alfalfa that turns the street green for six blocks. Jesus rides during the procession on a burro accompanied by the apostles.

The Passion Play's cast changes for each production, with regular participants interchanging roles from year to year.

An outdoor mass is held at 7 p.m. in the church atrium and at 9 p.m. the electricity is turned out in the plaza for 30 minutes, turning back the time to what it was like 100 years ago to live with only candlelight.

Then, everyone in the plaza throws eggs filled with confetti at each other during a traditional papaqui.

Maundy Thursday — April 18

The Passion Play’s portrayal of the Last Supper takes place at the volleyball court on the Ajijic malecón at 8:00 p.m. A torchlit procession then goes north on Calle Libertad, east on Hidalgo, turns north on Aquiles Serdan, crosses the highway and then proceeds up Tempisque to the foot of the hills.

Jesus speaks with his disciples on the hillside, representing the Garden of Gethsemane, before he begins to walk back down the hill with his followers.

Jesus speaks to his disciples on the hillside in Ajijic after the Last Supper.

He’s then apprehended by a group of Sanhedrin Temple guards who arrest him and bring him by torchlight to Ajijic’s main plaza for the Sanhedrin trial.

Roman soldiers apprehend Jesus and take him to the Ajijic plaza for the Sanhedrin trial.

The procession to the plaza goes back down Tempisque, heads east on Emiliano Zapata and then south on Colón to the plaza, where the trial takes place at 10 p.m.


Good Friday — April 19

On Good Friday, the Passion Play starts at 11 a.m. in the atrium in front of St. Andrew’s Church with the trial before Pontius Pilate.

Take a look at this short video of 900 photos in rapid succession taken on Good Friday last year. You’ll also get a look behind the scenes of the actors getting ready for the day:

At about 1:00 p.m., the Via Crucis takes places. The actor portraying Jesus carries his heavy wooden cross through the cobblestone streets and to “Golgotha” (the hills north of Ajijic at the top of Tempisque street), where the crucifixion scene occurs. Along the way, he is flogged and collapses to the ground under the weight of the cross:

The procession arrives at the hillside about 45 minutes later and the crucifixion scene ends after about a half hour. Everyone then heads back to St. Andrew’s Church, representing the Procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is buried:


Holy Saturday — April 20

On Saturday, the portrayal of the resurrection of Christ and the Easter Vigil takes place in the atrium outside St. Andrew’s Church at 8 p.m.


Easter Sunday — April 21

Guess what? On Easter Sunday, nothing happens. Not even the Easter Bunny really visits, though some families do participate in Easter egg hunts and the like. There is an Easter Sunday mass and people celebrate with friends and family, and in other ways, but the Passion Play is over.

Last updated April 27, 2019

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Photos of Easter Week

Palm Sunday

One of Ajijic's Semana Santa traditions is to cover Hidalgo Street with alfalfa before the Palm Sunday procession.

One of Ajijic's Semana Santa traditions is to cover Hidalgo Street with alfalfa before the 6:30 p.m. Palm Sunday procession. Plan to arrive around 5:30 if you want to watch this tradition play out.

Alfalfa gets left in piles along the street.

Alfalfa gets left in piles along the street.

And residents living along Hidalgo spread it out in front of their houses.

And residents living along Hidalgo spread it out in front of their houses.

From the church, seen at the center of the photo...

From the church, seen at the center of the photo (facing east)...

...all the way to Seis Esquinas, six blocks away (no we're facing west).

...all the way to Seis Esquinas, six blocks away (now we're facing west).

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Masked Zayaco in Ajijic

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Purchase This Fine Art Print
That's a half-mile of alfalfa, which will cover the path of the procession which starts at Seis Esquinas at 6:30 p.m. and ends at the plaza about a half hour later. It was customary in the ancient Near East to cover the path of someone who was highly honored.

That's a half-mile of alfalfa, which will cover the path of the procession which starts at Seis Esquinas at 6:30 p.m. and ends at the plaza about a half hour later. It was customary in the ancient Near East to cover the path of someone who was highly honored.

Before the procession, parishioners hold crosses made from palm fronds and flowers while vendors carrying baskets attempt to make last-minute sales.

Before the procession, parishioners hold crosses made from palm fronds and flowers while vendors carrying baskets attempt to make last-minute sales.

The priest blesses the crowd with holy water from a Bonafont water bottle before the procession starts at Six Corners on Palm Sunday.

The priest blesses the crowd with holy water from a Bonafont water bottle before the procession starts at Six Corners on Palm Sunday.

The procession on Palm Sunday as participants hold up woven palmas made from palm fronds.

The procession on Palm Sunday as participants hold up woven palmas made from palm fronds.

A woman holds a spring of rosemary as the Palm Sunday procession goes down Hidalgo Street.

A woman holds a spring of rosemary as the Palm Sunday procession goes down Hidalgo Street.

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See this Photo Essay
Townspeople, apostles and the clergy walk in the Palm Sunday procession which portrays Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem a few days before the Last Supper.

Townspeople, apostles and the clergy walk in the Palm Sunday procession which portrays Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem a few days before the Last Supper.

Apostles accompany Jesus as he rides a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Apostles accompany Jesus as he rides a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

The Passion Play's cast changes for each production, with regular participants interchanging roles from year to year.

The Passion Play's cast changes for each production, with regular participants interchanging roles from year to year.

Jesus and his disciples arrive in Jerusalem for a mass in the atrium of San Andrés Church.

Jesus and his disciples arrive in Jerusalem for a mass in the atrium of San Andrés Church.

Townspeople congregate for the Palm Sunday mass which takes place at 7 p.m.

Townspeople congregate for the Palm Sunday mass which takes place at 7 p.m.

Townspeople who could not find seating overflow outside the church during the outdoor Palm Sunday mass at 7 p.m.

Townspeople who could not find seating overflow outside the church during the outdoor Palm Sunday mass at 7 p.m.

The decoration of the plaza and the preparation of food for the Palm Sunday Verbena de Jamaica del Pasado is done by members of the Ajijic community.

The decoration of the plaza and the preparation of food for the Palm Sunday Verbena de Jamaica del Pasado is done by members of the Ajijic community.

A boy helps with putting up strings of papel picado, a type of Mexican folk art that's commonly found streaming over festivities in Ajijic and other parts of Mexico, while people prepare food for the evening's verbena.

A boy helps with putting up strings of papel picado, a type of Mexican folk art that's commonly found streaming over festivities in Ajijic and other parts of Mexico, while people prepare food for the evening's verbena.

Eduardo Ramos is the founder of Ajijic's Passion Play and has been leading its production for 40 years. He is the historian for the municipality of Chapala for the current administration.

Eduardo Ramos is the founder of Ajijic's Passion Play and has been leading its production for 40 years. He is the historian for the municipality of Chapala for the current administration.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Kids pose as marionettes on a moving float during the New Year's Day parade in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

The Puppetmaster Adjusts His Sombrero

Kids pretend to be living marionettes while riding on a moving float during the New Year’s Day parade in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

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Purchase This Fine Art Print
The plaza as its being set up in the morning of Palm Sunday for the events in the evening. Tables and chairs are set up around the plaza's kiosk so you can sit down and eat.

The plaza as its being set up in the morning of Palm Sunday for the events in the evening. Tables and chairs are set up around the plaza's kiosk so you can sit down and eat.

Members of the Passion's organizing committee bring palm fronds to decorate the Ajijic plaza for Palm Sunday.

Members of the Passion's organizing committee bring palm fronds to decorate the Ajijic plaza for Palm Sunday.

Palm leaves were what Christ's followers placed in his path on his way into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Palm leaves were what Christ's followers placed in his path on his way into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

The community is the organizer of Semana Santa each year, as the Church offers little to no monetary assistance with the production of the Passion Play.

The community is the organizer of Semana Santa each year, as the Church offers little to no monetary assistance with the production of the Passion Play.

Esteban Ceja and Olide Márquez unpack painted eggs filled with confetti for the papaqui that takes place around 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday.

Esteban Ceja and Olide Márquez unpack painted eggs filled with confetti for the papaqui that takes place around 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday.

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A papaqui is an old custom where people throw these confetti-filled eggs at each other.

A papaqui is an old custom where people throw these confetti-filled eggs at each other.

Some of the adornments made by the community to decorate the plaza on Palm Sunday.

Some of the adornments made by the community to decorate the plaza on Palm Sunday.

The verbena de jaimaica del pasado is held from 4 p.m. onwards on Palm Sunday in the Ajijic Plaza. The event is a fundraiser for the Passion Play and features food made by the community.

The verbena de jaimaica del pasado is held from 4 p.m. onwards on Palm Sunday in the Ajijic Plaza. The event is a fundraiser for the Passion Play and features food made by the community. It ends when the food is gone.

This group of women makes sopes every year and sells about 1,500 of them. Sopes are like thick tortillas which are fried and topped with potato, sliced peppers and other Lent-friendly toppings (no meat). Many stands are set up throughout the plaza to sell traditional foods like pozole, tacos dorados, tostadas, enchiladas and tamales.

This group of women makes sopes every year and sells about 1,500 of them. Sopes are like thick tortillas which are fried and topped with potato, sliced peppers and other Lent-friendly toppings (no meat). Many stands are set up throughout the plaza to sell traditional foods like pozole, tacos dorados, tostadas, enchiladas and tamales.

A boy waits for his mom to get sopes.

A boy waits for his mom to get sopes,

A woman sells palmas outsidet the church on Palm Sunday.

A woman sells palmas outsidet the church on Palm Sunday.

A girl sleeps in the back of a truck while her parents sell palm frond crosses on Palm Sunday. Many indigenous families come from outside of Ajijic to sell religious decorations made from palms.

A girl sleeps in the back of a truck while her parents sell palm frond crosses on Palm Sunday. Many indigenous families come from outside of Ajijic to sell religious decorations made from palms.

Food is served in typical pottery plates and bowls.

Food is served in typical pottery plates and bowls.

Two women pretend to get married at the registro civil booth on the plaza. Anyone can come to the booth to receive a fake wedding certificate and a fake ring, and then exchange fake vows. It's one of the activities that takes places to help raise money for the week's production of the Passion Play.

Two women pretend to get married at the registro civil booth on the plaza. Anyone can come to the booth to receive a fake wedding certificate and a fake ring, and then exchange fake vows. It's one of the activities that takes places to help raise money for the week's production of the Passion Play.

A couple pretend to get married at the registro civil during the verbena.

A couple pretend to get married at the registro civil during the verbena.

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Another event that goes on is games of the lotería. It's basically like bingo, but using images on cards instead of numbers.

Another event that goes on is games of the lotería. It's basically like bingo, but using images on cards instead of numbers.

A family during the verbena in the Ajijic plaza.

A family during the verbena in the Ajijic plaza.

Traveling carnivals sometimes arrive to set up rides for kids during the week of Semana Santa.

Traveling carnivals sometimes arrive to set up rides for kids during the week of Semana Santa.

Parents wait patiently for their child to finish one of the rides.

Parents wait patiently for their child to finish one of the rides.

A boy waits for customers at one of the carnival rides.

A boy waits for customers at one of the carnival rides.

Good Friday

For a quick overview of what happens on Viernes Santo, check out this three-minute compilation of 900 photos taken last year on Good Friday in Ajijic:

Gerardo Márquez dressed as one of the apostles during the Passion Play in Ajijic.

Gerardo Márquez dressed as one of the apostles during the Passion Play in Ajijic.

A boy tries to get a better view of the events unfolding in the atrium of St. Andrew's Church during the Good Friday Passion Play performance.

A boy tries to get a better view of the events unfolding in the atrium of St. Andrew's Church during the Good Friday Passion Play performance.

People watching the Passion Play on Good Friday.

People watching the Passion Play on Good Friday.

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See this Photo Essay
The entire face of the church is transformed each year for the trial scene before Pontius Pilate, where Jesus must defend himself from his claims to be King of the Jews.

The entire face of the church is transformed each year for the trial scene before Pontius Pilate, where Jesus must defend himself from his claims to be King of the Jews.

Jesus prostrates himself before bearing the cross after his trial scene is over.

Jesus prostrates himself before bearing the cross after his trial scene is over.

The Via Crucis through the streets of Ajijic. Jesus receives help from a disciple while carrying the cross.

The Via Crucis through the streets of Ajijic. Jesus receives help from a disciple while carrying the cross.

Roman soldiers carry a cross up the hill for the crucifixion scene during the Passion Play on Good Friday.

Roman soldiers carry a cross up the hill for the crucifixion scene during the Passion Play on Good Friday.

Roman soldiers erect Jesus on the cross on Good Friday.

Roman soldiers erect Jesus on the cross on Good Friday.

An actor delivers Jesus' speech from the cross during the Passion Play on Good Friday in Ajijic.

An actor delivers Jesus' speech from the cross during the Passion Play on Good Friday in Ajijic.

A roman soldier listens to Jesus speak during the crucifixion scene of the Passion Play.

A roman soldier listens to Jesus speak during the crucifixion scene of the Passion Play.

Townspeople watch the crucifixion of Jesus during the Passion Play in Ajijic. The crucifixion always takes place on the hillside north of the town.

Townspeople watch the crucifixion of Jesus during the Passion Play in Ajijic. The crucifixion always takes place on the hillside north of the town.

Roman soldiers returning to the plaza after crucifying Jesus on the hill behind Ajijic during the Passion Play.

Roman soldiers returning to the plaza after crucifying Jesus on the hill behind Ajijic during the Passion Play.

And he's taken in another procession through the streets of Ajijic and returned to the church.

And he's taken in another procession through the streets of Ajijic and returned to the church.

The body is laid down inside Church San Andrés where some of the actors, no longer acting, shed real tears and grieve over the death of their savior.

The body is laid down inside Church San Andrés where some of the actors, no longer acting, shed real tears and grieve over the death of their savior.

Ajijic is a popular tourist destination for visitors from Guadalajara during Semana Santa, as well as the week after, called pascua.

Ajijic is a popular tourist destination for visitors from Guadalajara during Semana Santa, as well as the week after, called pascua.

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Aztec Dancers on Mezcala Island

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Purchase This Fine Art Print

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